Karen Brebner Ph. D.
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
St. Francis Xavier University

OFFICE: 432 J Bruce Brown

PHONE: (902) 867-5460

Research Interests

The main focus of my research is the exploration of animal models of addiction, including self-administration of psychoactive drugs, behavioral sensitization, relapse to drug seeking behavior, and conditioned place preference. My most recent work addressed the relationship between long term depression and behavioral sensitization to d-amphetamine. Sensitization to psychostimulant drugs serves as an animal model of craving and also as a model of enduring drug-induced neural plasticity. We have recently reported the development of a new class of “interference” peptides aimed at repairing functional and structural alterations in brain regions implicated in a number of psychiatric disorders. One such interference peptide blocked long-term depression in the nucleus accumbens and also blocked the expression of behavioural sensitization. We are currently conducting follow-up studies to determine whether these interference peptides might be a novel pharmacotherapeutic approach for treating drug addiction, and whether there are applications to other neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders associated with abnormal synaptic function.